Tackling climate change issues and ensuring skills development and employment generation are crucial to attain sustainable growth in the Asia-Pacific countries, including Bangladesh, experts said at a programme on Wednesday.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a global platform of the private sectors of different countries, can play a vital role alongside the governments in achieving the desired growth, they added.
The experts made the observations at a session on 'ICC's role in responding to emerging global challenges for sustainable growth' held at a city hotel on the second day of the three-day 'The Asia-Pacific conference on financing inclusive and sustainable development'.
The International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh (ICC,B) has organised the international event in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank-Trade Finance Programme (ADB-TFP).
Prime minister's private industry and investment adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman presided over the session and ICC,B President Mahbubur Rahman delivered the introductory remarks.
Salman F Rahman said the national chambers of commerce of different countries have been playing advocacy roles in favour of their respective governments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Climate change and skills development of workforce are the two key challenges for the SDGs, he pointed out.
He also said the Bangladesh government has taken a series of initiatives to tackle the challenges for SDGs, adding that the country's biggest advantage is its population.
Mahbubur Rahman said inclusive economic growth means leaving no-one behind, bringing more poorer people of society together for inclusive development.
From that point of view, ICC has been working with the government, the UN and businesses, he added.
"ICC member organisations working hand in hand with the governments as well as the United Nation's agencies," he said.
Mr Rahman also noted that ICC played proactive roles in setting up the targets of SDGs as part of assisting the UN and now the chamber is assisting the governments around the world to achieve the targets.
Chairman of the Brunei Darussalam International Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shazali Sulaiman shared his country's experiences about the SDG.
Brunei doesn't face issues like poverty and hunger, which are mentioned in SDG 1 to 5, though there is an unemployment problem, he said.
The Asian country is now looking to create more employment opportunities through halal product manufacturing sector, he said, adding that different countries should devise their own plans for tackling challenges to growth.
First Vice-Chairman of ICC, Afghanistan Zabihullah Ziarmal identified poverty and climate change as common and crucial challenges for many countries in Asia and Africa.
"Every people, including the richest of the world, will suffer unless the climate change impact is not properly addressed," he said, adding that achieving half of the SDGs depends on the same issue.
Private sector intervention, financing different schemes and strengthening both public and private sector are vital to this end, said Mr Ziarmal.
ICC, as the leading platform of the global private sector, can play a significant role in this regard, he added.
Nihad Kabir, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka, said Bangladesh economy, currently going through transitional period, needs to make preparations considering the post-LDC graduation phase.
"We need to get prepared now. The preparatory measures should be in line with the SDGs," she said.
She suggested that the ICC bodies help generate employment, embrace fourth industrial revolution, finance different projects and advise the governments towards achieving the SDGs.
The other panellists included ICC Chief of Staff Quinlam Carthane and Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Rupali Haque Chowdhury.
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